Monday, 18 June 2018

Happy Waterloo Day!

I almost missed this celebration, one of my biggies of the year....
How could I?!
British Life Guards clash with French Cuirassiers

This most famous of battles was my early interest in wargaming, probably after viewing the movie "Waterloo" (still a great movie for the Napoleonic crowd)  My first historical book, that of the battle, is still in my library some 47 years later.  I remember discovering it, with all the pretty pictures, at a used book store but not having the money to purchase it; waiting a full week until I could get back to the store; hoping beyond hope that it would still be there during all that time. It was, thankfully.

So Happy Waterloo Day and hope your Napoleonics painting or game will be that more fun for it.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

a magic trick...

A request from Ron, had me thinking about bases.  He was starting up a new MDF company and wanted new ideas for bases.   I suggested 'petals' and 'clumps'.


Let me explain.  When doing my Samurai army, I went to thin wood rather than card as it would be stiffer as they were carrying multiple metal figures in a spread out group

A trip to the art store Micheal's produced various circles,  ovals and a flower petal cutout which I could get numerous small circles.  I left one roughly intact for the musician/banner group
banner group on 'petal' multi-base

From any distance it looked like a group of individual stands rather than one single element. Too bad it was almost the last stand to be done or I may have altered my basing scheme from the start!

But this in mind, I suggested to Ron this petal ideas along with clumps of seemingly singles all attached to make group moves made easy.  I don't like the sabot concept and do enjoy the look of each figure as an individual; but as moving individual figures, especially stretched across a table at full extension time after time is rather tedious and sore on the back, it gives the benefits of both.

We can see this in this photo of a line of six Roman Auxilia being held, as if by magic by two digits of the hand.
the Roman Auxilia
my magic trick!
12 figures on only five stands
same rank as from the previous photo

The rest of the army is grouped in various sizes to offer any combo of casualties to the unit.  I have subsequently suggested two rank versions which again offers a look of individually based miniatures but with a group move effect.

You can see his comments on his company's blog at: Ron's company blog link
He is going over pricing currently and hopes to start in earnest in August.  I will put in an order for more!

Saturday, 2 June 2018

It's dry in a desert: a WW1 game.

"It's Dry in a Desert"

 Hmm, that could be the title of the my new rules I tried out with the help of KevinA at the club.

After a beer or two at home while looking at new basing techniques for my small collection of 20mm Ottoman and ANZAC troops for the desert of Sinai 1917, a concept for the basis of a home-brew rule set popped into my head,  so I produced a VERY sketchy idea which needed some help filling out. Such as....umm, how far do they move...THAT sort of thing!
Luckily Kevin was game to help me out during the club night and by the end of the evening we had a simple, convention friendly game which we both stepped back from the table, with a grin on our faces and stating "That was a fun game!"

The rules are still very rough but seemed to flow.  Lots and lots of dice.  Only sixes do anything.  Kevin and I certainly have trouble rolling sixes (twice Kevin rolled 32 x d6 dice and did not score a single 6!)  The real slow part was carefully counting out the dice for each roll!

The figures are HaT 1:72 soft plastics with a very simple paint job and highlighting wash.  The trenches are made from cheap self-hardening clay with the 'sandbags' a mere impression in the clay (a very quickly done impression...obviously....). The tents are cut from a large Toblerone chocolate triangular box, painted and glued on card.  Very old school!
I have not finalized the basing still so went really simple but actually kinda works so might stay with it!
Turkish heavy machine gun company.  Lots of dice worth of firepower. 
Australian horse attack Turkish position
Needed only NOT to roll any six to activate on two die.  I couldn't do it for five turns in a row! Thus my poor disheartened Turks continued to mill about.

Friday, 1 June 2018

"What the FLaK??!"

“Myya planna, az sa Italiano torpedo pilot, isa tooa fly straighta and low, denna turn left to the carrier. To hecka witta Brits and da flak…..”

"Iya doa datta wella, butta myya fish mustta beena duds, as Iya coulda notta throwa the required 10 onna the cueba."  Momma mia!

The flight of three Italian torpedo bombers I controlled to help take out the HMS Illustrious:

British fighters on patrol defending the British carrier in the distance:

The British fighters fly past my rear.  I manage to shoot one down and damage the other.

Coming through the flak.  As the attackers came from all directions and communicated little, it was surprising that we ended up with had multiple waves of attackers near the same point.   I am the third wave.  The first from the far side earlier had a hit on the carrier. The second attack is closer to the ship.  The forth wave is the German Stuka dive-bombers above my planes :

The attacks were ultimately unsuccessful. Either blown out of the sky or completely missing.
Good game nevertheless. Thanks to Kevin and Dave.
See their blog posts at :  link  and  link

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Battle of Eylau 2018

Rather than snow …. or lots of baking powder all over the table….we decided to do this January 1807 battle in the summer.

Start of the game.  Eylau is represented by the yellow church in the middle
Showing James' fine work.  He did these French AND a Russian command!
Murat's huge heavy horse command.  Murat is the single horseman in the centre.  DaveB's nicely painted Imperial Guard is in the background.
Looking upon the Russian Right/French Left flanks
Showing Davout (commanded by myself) coming onto the battlefield near the village of Serpallen only to be stopped by a good defence by Ostermann (MarkS) and reinforcements coming in.  
Showing late in the battle with the Russians advancing with infantry and artillery.

I debated whether to add sandstorms (rather than snowstorms) add/or downgrade the Russian command and combat abilities, but in the end did not add any variations.  Probably should have.

One result is the Russians actually saw how few French were in front of them and immediately advanced.  By not lowering their maneuver pips and thus they moved at uncharacteristic speed for the Russians of this era.  Using group moves  (the now banned after game casual debate over lunch and beers), they managed to move troops to the beleaguered left flank to which Davout (myself) was attacking.  My attack along with all the other French commanders were stymied by the good Russian commanders.

Lestocq (and yes that is the spelling; and no, I have no idea how to pronounce;  we went with "la-stock") the lone Prussian finally entered at the historical time and immediately started marching toward the French.  However it was clear even at that point that the French were done and the Corps Morale rolls were starting to affect the outcome in any event (as they should)

It was a bad day for the French and our first a-historical result using the rules.  Should have gone with the original plan.  Must revisit this battle with such changes and see if the result will be different and, as interestingly, a historical one.
Nevertheless the game was a good one and as the players are now well familiar with the rules, the game chugged along at a good pace.  We had 95 elements on the table, with 9 players and concluded the affair in one time slot.

Thanks to all the players and to those who contributed the time and effort in painting and basing your figures for the game.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Dressing Quintuplets...

Is it usual for parents of twins, and heaven forbid quintuplets, to dress their children exactly the same or is it more difficult but better to make each an individual?  I was faced with that problem when I decided the current set of building I have for the 28mm Napoleonics collection, needed to be a bit different for the upcoming battle of Eylau we are presenting at the "Enfilade" convention in Olympia, WA this weekend.
Eylau was in Prussia and I wanted a bit less the central Europe look than my current collection of buildings, so digging around in my paper buildings scraps, I found an intact building (well, OK the same side of one single building....) which I thought had a more, Prussian-ish feel.  [ don't tell anyone that it is from the Hougomont the Belgium complex of Waterloo fame ]  Lots of dark brick anyway.

I need four buildings to represent each of the important towns around the battlefield and made a fifth just in case.  it would have been easy just to make all the same with plain fields around each, but it might look a bit 'regular' on the tabletop, so I tried to make each a bit different to lessen the sameness.
Proof will be in the pudding as the old expression goes, and so we shall see the images of the upcoming game to see if they stand out or indeed have we made individuals of all the quintuplets.....

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments

After his disastrous Russian Campaign, Napoleon looked for new sources of manpower for his new armies in Germany in 1813, including the marine artillery contingents bottled up in the various harbours by the Royal Navy.  These proved to be, by most commentaries, to be exceptional fighters and were a large part of his forces during that year's fighting.
Napoleon's Naval Artillery Regiments of the 1813 campaigns.  They would mostly fight in their dark blue greatcoats as the weather was exceptionally poor with almost constant heavy rains marking most of the summer and autumn battles.

Wearing dark blue greatcoats and trousers and black covered shakos with red fringed epaulettes they were often misidentified as Imperial Guardsmen.  Their unique carrot-shaped short red plume I modelled with a bit of epoxy putty (green stuff) on the top of the existing round pompon of spare hussar shako heads

The figures are Victrix guardsmen obtained from a gaming buddy who had glued them up but decided not to paint.  I was able to remove the original heads and replaced them with spare hussar heads. He did a good job in the posing for a convincing firing line.

Monday, 7 May 2018

"but you are suppose to hold here!"

Yeah, probably 2nd Manassas but “The Battle of the Unfinished Railroad Cut” has a more folksy sound;  was an interesting game of DennisC’s 20mm ACW during the monthly Friday ClubNight in which I and KevinA as Confederates were tasked with defending the unfinished railway line from overwhelming Union forces from Colin and Nate’s disparate assaults, using the 2nd Edition Fire and Fury Brigade rules (which new charts really has it resembling the regimental version!) in this fictional what-if scenario.
The Confederates were well-outnumbered in this battle and indeed even had green units (gasp!) 
The grey strip is Dennis's representation of the unfinished railway cutting which I was suppose to defend.  I did, but not in the way poor Dennis would wish the battle to be conducted :)
Dang many bluecoats.  Fun to see the numerous figures I had painted being used on the table.

Dennis near had a apoplectic fit as I promptly advanced my meagre two units toward the four units facing me a hill away and followed that by moving my other two into the woods ahead.  “You are suppose to defend the line!” exclaimed Dennis at seeing my advances. And then he really shook his head when I then ‘vanished’ my crack cavalry unit.  “Where is it?!” asked Dennis. “It’s moving hidden from the enemy”, respond I.  “Well, I better not see it behind my troops!” added Colin (my Union opponent).  “No it will not ”, I answered, “but will be unseen as you still have four blank blocks  ( indicating more possible Union units unknown as of yet ). More than fair I am thinking”

Indeed my charging Rebs were short a couple of inches from the blocks but as the rules indicate visibility into the woods, Dennis as GM, laid them out.  Colin protested but I suggested “they could smell you d*nmed Yankees a mile away” in my best Southern accent.  Dennis placed yet more Union on the table.  Outnumbered 3 to 1 but not defending his beloved railway defensive positions,  Dennis suggested “this was not suppose to happen!”.
We know the Yankees were there as we could smell 'em......

But I was happy in the tactics.  Especially as my other two units had, again, advanced ( “You are suppose to defend!”) and started to attack Nate’s Union open right flank of their attack up hill against KevinA’s few Confederates holding our right part of the line.  The two Union player’s forces had separated, leaving a big gap in the middle for me to exploit so I came to aid Kevin with this flank attack from the middle.
The units of my attack in the center directed by Stonewall himself.  Lots of bonus command points for that!

All was going well but even early in the game, when the artillery was firing at very long ranges,      casualties seemed very severe.  But now as artillery was in effective ranges due to our advances, the artillery fire became absolutely devastating. Unfortunately Dennis had severely overestimated the amount of artillery which was historically deployed and so had perhaps 4X the number of models on the table which amounted to massive grand batteries of firepower.  Even low rolls were causing disorder and mayhem.  High rolls blew away whole units, including my previously hidden cavalry which I had moved around the hill to advance upon the guns which were unsupported and partially destroyed or silenced and alone in the Union empty middle.  But un-like the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade which, one might remember still did reach the guns, my elite boys were completely destroyed by a single volley by an average die roll by the guns. Sigh.  
a view of Kevin's defence's on our right flank.  Lots and lots of artillery in this fictional what-if battle made for huge casualties

Kevin was still holding his hill but weakening against the large numbers assaulting him.  My attack from the centre had a nice effect as the green (poor) Union unit at the end of their line routed (Nate had rolled an unfortunate 1 on the d10 dice employed by FnF - which ruleset use of the single d10 makes wide swings in one’s fortunes)
This rout would allow that attack would be effective but as often happens with wargames, real time will effect the battle and it was called.  Both sides claimed victory.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Battle of Renaix (fictional)

Both Ney and the corps commander Gerard were well aware they were heavily outnumbered but were under orders to delay as much s possible the Allied advance.  Gerard was at first prepared to defend the the small ridge north of the town of Renaix but seeing the Allied numbers especially in horse to his lone attached dragoon element (8 to 1) he abandoned that plan to then occupy the woods to the west of the town and the town itself to the east to anchor his defense and place his large artillery batteries between those terrain features to cover his centre.

Lord Hill, commanding the numerous Allied force made basically the same conclusion in observing the woods and town to be the main points of the French defence.  As an assault of the centre would be deadly and overall he wanted to husband his troops for the further campaign, Hill placed the woods clearing to Stedman and his Dutch-Belgians.  On the other flank, he sent Cole along with Kruse’s Nassauers to assault the town again hoping to push the French out of the feature and into the open fields beyond. With that, his British light horse would follow up the retreat to break the French.

As the Allied centre did not want to face the French artillery in the centre, The action was to be on each end of the battlefield.  The Hanoverian brigade demonstrated the French firepower by coming within the French cannon range from its deployment to attack the town and paying the price, disintegrated forcing a command morale roll by Cole temporarily stopping his advance.  He shifted the Nassau brigade out of range and had them follow his elite 27th Enniskillen Foot to the town.

In the usual vicious town fighting the Nassauers were heavily engaged and the 27th also hurt. In several hours the Allies were retreating from the town

On the other end of the battle, Stedman had entered the woods and was slowly working his Dutch-Belgians around the western end, but the Chasseurs collapsed against the experienced French Lights and his division fell back.
Now Hill was forced to change his dispositions, moving Colville to replace Stedman while Colville’s artillery useless against firing into the woods, moved to the front.  Hill also ordered the Duke of Brunswick to move his ‘corps’ to help Cole to secure the town while he moved to help Colville and his command. Like Wellington, he needed to be everywhere.

Perhaps seeing the redcoats cresting the hill or feeling safety from the French, the Dutch-Belgians regain their composure (my roll of a 6 had them fully recovered from that unfortunate corps morale roll previously!)

Cole’s assault on Renaix failed and around noon, many journals of the battle would recall the strange silence over the battlefield.  No guns fired, no masses of troops moved.

Hill, seeing Cole’s lost effort against the town and Stedman’s weak division holding the flanks, the French still happily in position, pondered if fresh attacks would merely squander his force.
On the other side, Gerald, on the left and behind the woods wondered why the silence while Ney on the right pursued his debate whether to hold the town or retreat intact.

Both sides in their debates asked if a further clash would serve their campaign victory further when a lone Enniskillen officer shouted, “That’s enough going back, lads!” and the regiment abruptly turned around to once again face the enemy. ( I rolled the miracle 6 on the dice once again!)
Hill upon seeing that all was not lost, again ordered adjustments in his tactics for further attacks.
He move the horse artillery to start a bombardment of the town and caused the remaining French formation to abandon the town as fires were ignited.

On the right, western flank, Stedman started successfully to envelope the French far flank, as Colville’s impressive column moved to the woods. While his corps morale held, Gerard knew his time was limited. he had not the troops to cover his right as the town that was his anchor will soon be taken and his overall positions would be overrun. Surprisingly Ney suggested the withdrawal.  So after five hours of fighting, Gerard called for the retreat and all his units started to move to his LOC ( the optional rule offers a “retreat order” which does not count PiPs command points but does not allow artillery fire or strong fighting. The opponents must still roll for command but for any light horse)  But with this, the Allies had a big advantage in light horse, but seemingly caught off-guard by the precipitous French withdrawal, the previously idle Allied light horse stationed in the centre of the Allied line for this purpose, could not quite catch the French as they exited the table…. merely the mathematics of distance and the measuring stick.

However the pursuit continued with a few batteries of Royal Horse Artillery adding effect to any squares forming to ward off the British hussars but this practice ended when the French dragoons stopped to lend assistance.  Nevertheless the French retreat did not stop until they returned to Leuze late in the day.

While the Allies had a huge 23 to 7 element advantage, most divisions including the D-B horse and Colville’s divisions were not in the action and overall casualties were light.  However while Gerard accomplished his starting goals, the Allies would claim victory in this, the third of the 2nd Day battles of the 100.5 Day campaign.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Battle of Ath (fictional)

The third battle of the fictional100.5 Days Campaign.
The Prince of Orange with his Dutch-Belgian aide. (Perrys)  Nominal commander of the Allied effort.  His tactical advise was not heeded but probably should have been.  The small independent Allied commands suffered as a result.
The Prince of Orange was nominally in command of the contingent of the Allied army consisting of the Dutch-Belgian divisions of Perponcher and Chasse, along with the British and Hanoverian brigades of Alten and British and KGL brigades of Clinton together with Ponsonby’s Heavy Horse. He was ordered to attack the seemingly small contingent of French sitting on the village of Ath.  Through intelligence confusion, it was thought the French were that of d’Erlon’ infantry and the weaken Exelman’s heavy cavalry corps from the battle at Leuze but it was indeed the corps of the determined Vandamme and Kellerman’s heavy horse ready in a defensive position holding Ath.
The early French movement by Kellerman and Quiot's Division to the left.
The early Allied advances.  On the right, already Perponcher's command is failing.  Ponsonby's small but strong British horse can be seen to his left wearing red coats and the Union Brigade's Scots Greys noticeable on their grey mounts.
Chasse's militia with orange flags are moving purposefully to the village of Ath (upper left of the photo).  Alten's command in line in the centre with Clinton's small contingent behind.  They would make no headway against the fire of the French guns (deployed on each side of Durette's division in the middle)
Given his military record, the Prince of Orange, offered no command assistance due to the experienced British divisional commanders stubbornly would not heeding his advise not to attack such a strong French position and numbers.
 [Ed. Note: I rolled for this eventuality as, while I had laid out the battle and even had DaveB’s agreement to the French deployment, I actually felt the Allies would not win such a game and so wanted to withdraw but was out-voted by the dice!]

Perponcher on the Allied right was to advance forcing Kellerman to counter thus giving Ponsonby and the British Heavies and chance to counterattack with advantage.  In the centre, Alten would try to pin the French centre with Clinton following up.  Chasse’s weak division of Dutch-Belgian militia would serve to pin the French force of Donzelot’s division in the village.
Chasse's Militia advance.  The figures are plastic conversions made from British bodies and French arms and packs!
Rather poor command by Perponcher this day (my poor dice rolling of his command PiPs throughout the game…) had his command already strung out and his rather strong artillery contingent was hurt as Kellerman’s horse artillery deployed far to the front, playing upon the limbered artillery and destroying two batteries which prompted Perponcher to deploy them too early.
Belgian line of Perponcher's command.  Plastic conversions by me from Perry British bodies, Victrix French arms, with Victrix British heads and one of Prussian. Packs are French.  The shako plates are close enough for me to be untouched. "Button-counters" might disagree.
On the Allied left, Chasse’s small division was better handled and immediately assaulted Ath as more to avoid the worst of the French artillery canister fire than in engaging in the urban fight.
However they found some success and fought tooth and nail with the veteran French within through most of the day only to be spent by the early afternoon.
Kellerman (the lone cuirassier wearing the bicorne hat - left-center) directs his cavalry. The green flag on the base is our command 'step-down' indicator which represents a half pip on the black die on his base.
Kellerman’s Horse made slow progress moving to the left against Perponcher’s Dutch-Belgians which held up the French infantry reserves of Quiot’s Division moving to that sector.

Ponsonby was observing these moves but was unwilling to move toward the French guns.  The French numbers in guns would tell in the battle and would influence much of what happened in the battle.  The early success of the artillery already weakened the Allied artillery strength concentrated in Perponcher’s command and the Allies had very little elsewhere to counter the French numbers.

Because of it’s concentration, the Dutch-Belgian artillery did have some success, notable singularly causing the loss of a cuirassier element but Kellerman’s command shrugged at that morale loss ( I rolled the required 6 on the command morale!) and continued to harass the Allied right flank commands.   Perponcher’s infantry was forced into square but some already battered, succumbed to the French horse.

In the middle, in face of massed artillery fire, Alten’s Division sustained heavy casualties and decided to finally heed the PofO’s opinion and turned his command away from the French guns’ canister range. Clinton, behind Alten, halted and thus the Allied attack in the centre faltered.

Ponsonby’s horsemen wanted a chance to attack the French dragoons and to perhaps grab victory however unlikely (I rolled for the likehood than that of a controlled withdrawal…very realistically given the British cavalry’s historical record!) However the LifeGuards failed to defeat the French veterans and the Union Brigade wisely did not follow but held.
the last important combat of the battle between the British Life Guards of Ponsonby's command and the green clad French dragoons of Kellerman.
At this point, the battle was very much in the French favour.  It might be noted that the brave Alten brought forward his only viable brigade to support Ponsonby’s failed attack of the French left, but Perponcher’s contingent was now spent as was Chasse. Ponsonby withdrew the rest of his horsemen to be prepared to play rearguard along with Clinton’s fine division unhurt in the middle but unable to make any impression on the main French force.
Kielmannsegge's Brigade of Hanoverians.  Each of the different uniforms represent the individual battalion sized regiments which constituted this formation during the historical campaign.

In the late evening, Allied elements were breaking while the French command morale was holding (the result of my rather lopsided die rolling I am afraid. However, the slow disintegration of the Allies was a logical result nonetheless and the morale chart will always reflect this) The Allied commands one by one started to withdraw. The French continue to hold Ath and the Allies withdrew, Ponsonby’s cavalry holding a successful rearguard action against the now weakened French horsemen.
The 52nd Light Foot Regiment and 95th Rifles of one of Clinton's brigades unengaged in this battle.

Vandamme toasted to the victory.  History will record that he did not immediately report his achievement to Napoleon.  His chief-of-staff would suggest the gathering of casualty numbers and dealing with the enemy dead as the reason. Nevertheless, the length of the engagement would not allow either side to offer contingents to any of their other forces in the area.

Analysis: Because of the lack of overall command in the Allies camp, each small division had it’s only a small command morale amount.  And while mathematically the modifying number is proportionally equal regardless of strength, the unified French commands did not suffer the potential morale loss as do the small Allied commands.  Interesting to note for fictional play rather than historical commands which is our usual staple game.